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10 Eye-Opening Books Steve Jobs Would Have Recommended

10 Eye-Opening Books Steve Jobs Would Have Recommended

It’s been said again and again that Steve Jobs was a visionary, but it wasn’t because he focused only on growing Apple and designing the iPhone. How did he think the way he did? Surely he learned from someone.

He read books that focused on more than just technology and business. As you’ll see below, in addition to those subjects, his reading list included topics like meditation and a vegetarian diet. Most importantly, the books that Steve Jobs read shared one main characteristic: they were about an individual overcoming obstacles to transform the world. This is exactly what he did with Apple.

Here are 10 eye-opening books that influenced Steve Jobs.

1. 1984, George Orwell

1984

    Imagine what life would be like if you had no control over anything in your world. This is a story about one man’s fight against an oppressive, all-controlling state. It makes the reader contemplate aspects of society that are controlling them, and question the control they have over their own thoughts and actions.

    It’s inarguable that Steve Jobs was influenced by this book. The first advertisement which introduced the Apple Macintosh depicted the world as oppressed and dominated by IBM, and Apple was the only alternative able to disrupt the conformist status quo.

    2. The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen

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    innovators dilemma

      In The Innovator’s Dilemma, Christensen discusses the that idea that successful companies may fail to adopt new technology or business models that would help their customers’ future needs as a result of focusing too much on their customers’ current needs. As we work to achieve our goals or grow our businesses we have to focus on our short-term goals, but at the same time avoid getting stuck with a short-term outlook. We have to consider what our end goal is and make sure our current goals fit with that vision.

      Apple often looked past it’s current technology and continued to change its own technology. Take the iPhone for example, which has all the features of an iPod and more- making iPods obsolete.

      3. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki

      zen mind beginners mind

        Meditation has been proven to improve mental health and reduce stress. In today’s fast-paced, hectic world, it’s important to have moments to yourself. If you’re looking to get a start in meditation, this is the go-to book. It’s a compilation of talks given by Suzuki, providing a concise introduction to Zen meditation. It also discusses the topics of selflessness and mindfulness.

        Steve Jobs often used the methods found in this book to center himself during difficult moments in his career. He was such an avid practitioner that he considered going to Japan to continue his practice, but was advised against it.

        4. Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

        autobiography of a yogi

          This book gives us a look into the life of Paramahansa Yogananda. He shares his encounters with spiritual figures of the East and West and his journey from childhood to becoming a monk. Through sharing his experiences, he attempts to explain the spiritual laws of everyday occurrences.

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          If you’re looking to understand life in a little more depth, this book will help you develop an understanding of people from different faiths and creeds, emphasizing the idea of peace through self-realization.

          Jobs read and reread this book while he stayed at a guesthouse in the foothills of the Himalayas in India. He continued to reread it every year afterwards.

          5. Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe

          diet for a small planet

            This was the first book that introduced a significantly different and healthier way of eating to America: being a vegetarian. This book contains simple rules in an easy-to-follow format, and recipes for anyone looking to start on a high-protein vegetarian diet. Healthy eating and dieting is a difficult goal for many of us, but with specific recipes and explanations, Lappe decreases the barriers to healthy eating.

            After reading this book, Jobs swore off meat, became a vegetarian, and began to experiment with other extreme diets.

            6. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

            moby dick

              Moby Dick tells the story of a ship captain and his efforts to get revenge on a white whale that destroyed his ship and severed his leg. The captain demonstrates lessons in persistence that we can learn from- guiding us to hopefully conquer our own white whales. Maybe you’re stuck on a problem, or finding it difficult to achieve a goal. This is a sign you have your own white whale to conquer.

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              Jobs and Apple had a white whale in the 1980s: entering a market that was already dominated by another company, IBM. Through many struggles, Jobs was able to help Apple to achieve its own share of the market. It’s safe to say that Apple has conquered many white whales since then.

              7. King Lear by William Shakespeare

              king lear

                In this tragedy, Shakespeare demonstrates how life can suddenly turn for the worse, telling the story of a king who’s betrayed by his daughters and robbed of his kingdom as he descends into madness. We can learn from the mistakes of King Lear, who betrayed those who loved him the most, was fooled by appearances, and ended up leading his country to civil war.

                Jobs told Walter Isaacson, the author of his biography, that he “loved King Lear”, which isn’t surprising.

                “King Lear offers a vivid depiction of what can go wrong if you lose your grip on your empire, a story surely fascinating to any aspiring CEO,” says Daniel Smith, author of How to Think Like Steve Jobs.

                8. Inside the Tornado, by Geoffrey A. Moore

                inside the tornado

                  New companies often face the problem of finding early adopters for new products, then determining how to reach the mainstream market. Moore provides a method of navigating inside this tornado, helping you to get your company through the turmoil that is taking a product to mass market successfully. This book is recommended for anyone looking to grow a company.

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                  The release of new products means accepting that it may take a while for the general public to adapt to things that are new. Apple has clearly developed strategies to assist them to survive their own tornadoes and get products past early adopters to the mainstream market.

                  9. Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

                  atlas shrugged

                    What happens when billionaire CEOs drop their companies in the name of good, but end up harming the economy? Ayn Rand, hailed as one of the most profound philosophers of the 20th century, tells the story of a dystopian United States where successful CEOs abandon their fortunes and cause important industries to collapse. She provides a deep analysis of ideas like morality, egoism, and the potential destruction of altruism.

                    As the CEO of a large and highly influential company, Jobs likely contemplated his motivations and the effects of his decisions on the world.

                    10. The Tao of Programming, by Geoffrey James

                    the tao of programming

                      This book is a spoof of classic Taoist texts and explains various hacker ideals of work and programming. Through a series of short anecdotes, Geofrrey James outlines lessons about software management and design. A must-read for new project managers or project leads, Steve Jobs personally told Geoffrey James that he enjoyed this book.

                      So why not choose one of these books to kick off your summer reading- you might just change your perspective on life and business at the same time.

                      Featured photo credit: Albumarium via albumarium.com

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                      The Gentle Art of Saying No

                      The Gentle Art of Saying No

                      No!

                      It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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                      But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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                      What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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                      But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

                      1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
                      2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
                      3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
                      4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
                      5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
                      6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
                      7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
                      8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
                      9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
                      10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

                      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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